Monday, February 21, 2011

Spring always finds me musing about new beginnings and starting over. We've suffered through the cold and tried to make the best out of the short, dark days of Winter by casting a positive eye at the beauty of the snow as it affords a pristine white powdery covering for the otherwise dreary earth. The mind numbing hibernation phase we abhor is being overtaken by an exciting tension in the air...even the wind whistling around the eaves of the house can't quell the optimism blowing around like so much confetti.

As a gardener, my first foray outdoors is always in the direction of the flower beds. These beds that are covered by fall leaves, when brushed aside, give us a glimpse of chartreuse new growth swelling from the powdery earth. The decay of old plant matter has enriched the soil and made it even more hospitable to the tender shoots straining for a fleeting glimpse of the February sun.

So, too, it is with life. We go through dark times when all is dreary and forsaken. These are times when we fall from grace and simply rely on our instinctive drive to survive. Sometimes we just don't like our lives and don't find much gratitude in our weary souls but occasionally a friend or loved one enters into the darkness and gives us a pristine new perspective. These 'angels among us' remind us of the optimism that should be ever-present in our souls. This too shall pass, as they say.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to call a family member, friend, have a double helping of joy. That's how it was with Mom. Sure, we were mother and daughter, but there was so much more. We had evolved beyond the parent and child state and had traversed the treacherous waters of adolescence and had landed on the solid, rich soil of friendship. My brother, Michael, was her youngest child and was only 5 years older than our oldest child, Rowan. So we attacked life with the joy of companionship and mutual interests. Gardening was one of those interests and together we learned through trial and error. We established a hard and fast partnership in beautifying our surroundings and spent all year 'round looking for the green spring buds of life.

After Mom died too early, at 58 years old, my joy went dormant. Gardening held no charm for me, only a somber reminder of who it was I missed. This Winter in my soul lasted for 5 years or so. I raised my family, sometimes on autopilot, but I could never quite approach 'our' pastime. Time is the ultimate healer, however, and with the love of a devoted husband and children I began my rebirth...the new Springtime of my soul.

I still think of Mom with every spadeful of dirt, every blossom and shiny leaf but now it's with a fond remembrance. I see her in the bright, shining stars late on a clear summery night and I envision her smile at the things I've learned since she's been gone. The one thing that she has left me with is the warm knowledge that your loved ones are with you forever...sometimes you just don't see them in bodily form.

Now I have my own mother/daughter bond and life marches on. Erika, our daughter has developed into quite the friend and I take great pride in that...because it is a priceless blessing to have such a bond.

The last words Mom said to me right before she died were, 'now you're me'...I take this to heart and as the greatest compliment. As the oldest female of my family I now enjoy the continuation of the legacy which started years before me. Mom was but a lovely link in this priceless chain we call family. Hold your mothers tight and hug your daughters daily.

Life and love - they are precious gifts from God to be enjoyed and nurtured!